New York deciding whether to accept Margarito-Cotto
A three-person panel of the New York State Athletic Commission is scheduled to render a decision Friday on whether to allow Tijuana's Antonio Margarito to fight Puerto Rico's world super-welterweight champion Miguel Cotto Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden.
Margarito previously was denied a license by New York after concerns emerged over the cataract-removal surgery he underwent in May in Utah.
On Wednesday, the panel, including chairwoman Melvina Lathan, conducted a hearing that included statements and explanations by the doctor who performed Margarito's innovative surgery, along with experts in the field and Margarito's promoters.
"I didn't have a great feel either way for what will happen," said Carl Moretti, an executive for Margarito's promotional company Top Rank. "I felt like it was a slam dunk when I heard the commission doctors said Antonio had impeccable care with his procedure, but I know they don't like that there was a procedure in the first place."
Moretti said Margarito's operation is an example of medical advances that change how eye procedures, perhaps viewed as troubling in the past by athletic commissions, can now be embraced as effective.
"This was a painstaking, costly effort that was undertaken because the kid [Margarito] still wants to fight," Moretti said.
Bob Arum, Margarito's promoter, says more than 90% of tickets for the event at Madison Square Garden have been sold.
Yet Arum said he's been forced by uncertainty over the commission's stance on Margarito to scramble and find possible alternative locations for the bout. Arum on Thursday would not disclose who he's negotiated with.
Asked if he felt good about the fight remaining in New York, Arum said, "No," but maintained he remains hopeful the commission will accept Margarito.
Margarito, who previously was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for nearly wearing plaster-caked knuckle pads inside his hand wraps in a January 2009 loss to Shane Mosley at Staples Center, was relicensed by Texas for his November 2010 loss to Manny Pacquiao -- where he suffered the fractured orbital bone and eye injury.
Margarito and Cotto fought previously in 2008, with the Tijuana fighter producing a stirring late rally to win by an 11th-round knockout.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Miguel Cotto, left, Antonio Margarito. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images.